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It is now clear that FGW will derecognise TSSA for managers on and from 4 May 2015. So what does that mean for TSSA manager members in FGW?

30 April 2015

From 4 May, FGW managers will not be covered by collective bargaining.

This has a number of consequences for those managers:

· TSSA will have no formal ‘industrial’ staff reps in FGW, and there will be no Management Divisional Council;

· TSSA and its reps will not be able to negotiate on pay or any matters relating to contracts of employment including rosters, or be consulted on matters relating to organisation change (staff reorganisations);

· In the absence of collective bargaining, FGW will have to negotiate with each individual regarding any changes to managers’ contracts of employment including rosters.

That means that any disputes between managers and the company would have to be dealt with on an individual basis. TSSA will howeverstill have the legal right to represent managers at individual grievance or disciplinary hearings.

It also means that should an issue arise that affects a significant number of managers, TSSA would have no formal channels to pursue the issue, and would in reality only have the option of threatening or actually taking industrial action.

The good news is that TSSA will still have the right to formally represent managers over matters of health and safety, and TSSA manager members will still be able to elect health and safety reps. The same applies to training and development; the union will be able to represent managers and elect Learning reps.

So what is TSSA doing about derecognition?

Since FGW announced it was to derecognise TSSA for managers on and from 4 May, the union’s focus has naturally been on getting FGW to change its mind. Now that it is clear that FGW will not do so, TSSA will pursue a campaign to regain recognition taking advantage of laws that are designed to ensure that where employees want to have the right to be collectively represented by a trade union, then an employer can be legally forced to recognise that union. This is known as ‘statutory recognition’.

To trigger this process, TSSA must formally apply to a body known as the ‘Central Arbitration Committee' (CAC), something it cannot do whilst it is still recognised, and cannot therefore be done until 4 May.

The CAC will want to see evidence that TSSA has the support of the majority of FGW managers before it will award recognition to the union.If TSSA can demonstrate that it has the majority of managers in membership of the union, the CAC can award recognition. Alternatively, the CAC may decide to hold a ballot in which managers would vote for or against recognition for TSSA.

Numbers of managers in membership have been climbing ever since the union was recognised, and until relatively recently, the majority of managers were indeed members of TSSA.. However, over the last year or so the number of managers has increased by around 250 (around a third!), and the proportion of managers in membership of TSSA has dropped accordingly.

Why is recognition so important?

‘Recognition’ is where there is a formal agreement between a union and an employer which gives the staff the right to have a trade union bargaining collectively on their behalf on issues relating to pay, terms and conditions, rosters, hours of work, and holidays. The staff are then able to raise issues with the employer through elected union reps, who have considerable legal rights and protections.

Without recognition and the collective bargaining that goes with it, each individual manager is effectively on their own when dealing with the company about issues relating to pay, terms and conditions, rosters, hours of work, and holidays. The balance of power in such circumstances is overwhelmingly in favour of the company and not the individual. By coming together and bargaining collectively through TSSA, power can be shifted muchmore in favour of the employees.

Recognition also provides a framework or process through which the company consults collectively on issues such as redundancies and TUPE transfers.

It is open to FGW to set up alternative methods of collective consultation such as staff forums or staff councils. However, such bodies are composed of individuals who have little legal protection, and who are unaccountable. Without a union to back them up, such bodies are generally ineffective and ultimately toothless.

Having just won a new franchise until at least 2019, FGW has recently been giving presentations to union reps, and has started roadshows for staff. One of FGW’s key messages is that the company is about to undergo a period of great change which will significantly affect most if not all of the staff. In those circumstances, managers will need an effective consultation process that ensures that individuals are treated fairly. Regaining recognition would ensure that this was done through TSSA reps with the full backing of a union with considerable expertise and resources, including easy access to the union’s solicitors should it prove to be necessary.

What can you do to help TSSA’s campaign for trade union rights for managers?

  • TSSA needs to increase its membership amongst FGW managers in order to successfully win back recognition. Ask your colleagues if they are members and if they are notexplain the importance of recognition and collective bargaining and encourage them to join TSSA - they can do this online at www.tssa.org.uk/join
  • Complete an individual petition stating that you support TSSA bargaining on your behalf and get your colleagues to do so too.
  • Become a workplace contact for TSSA – email Natalie Feeley at feeleyn@tssa.org.uk

TSSA- the union for managers in the rail industry

TSSA represents thousands of managers across the rail industry, and has collective bargaining rights for most of them. TSSA understands the needs of the rail industry and its managers, and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with managers’ issues.

Don’t be alone – join with thousands of rail manager colleagues across the country, and support TSSA in regaining recognition for FGW managers!

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